The Very Thought of You (Martha, Meet Frank, Daniel and Laurence) (1998)

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Released 15-Oct-2001

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Romantic Comedy Main Menu Audio
Theatrical Trailer
Featurette-B-Roll
Featurette
Biographies-Cast & Crew
Interviews-Cast & Crew
Production Notes
Rating Rated M
Year Of Production 1998
Running Time 84:08 (Case: 88)
RSDL / Flipper Dual Layered Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 4 Directed By Nick Hamm
Studio
Distributor

Magna Home Entertainment
Starring Monica Potter
Rufus Sewell
Tom Hollander
Joseph Fiennes
Ray Winstone
Case Click
RPI $29.95 Music Edward Shearmur


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.85:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 1.85:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits Yes

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

    The Very Thought of You (also known as Martha, Meet Frank, Daniel and Laurence) is an enchanting and delightful romantic comedy featuring three close friends: Frank McQuean (Rufus Sewell), Daniel Alfrey (Tom Hollander), and Laurence Loveless (Joseph Fiennes) who all fall in love with the same woman: Martha Dowling (Monica Potter). And that's about all I really want to reveal about the plot.

    I can't remember when I first watched this film, but it would have been either on a plane or on Foxtel. In any case, I do remember seeing it with absolutely no preconceived idea of what it was all about, and part of the fun for me was having the elements of the storyline slowly unfurl before my eyes - particularly how each of the three friends manages to meet with the same woman. I would like you to also have this pleasure, so if you have not watched this film before don't even read this synopsis - skip straight through to the Transfer Quality part of this review. You can always come back and read this section after you've seen the film.

    Still here? Well I'm still not going to reveal the plot, but I will talk a little bit about the main characters. The three buddies have been friends since childhood and have settled into a comfort zone where they take each other for granted, engage in a bit of healthy competition and one-upmanship, plus a dose of b****ing and moaning amongst the bravado and confessions. And all this despite the fact that they lead very different lives: Frank is a pessimistic and perennially out-of-work actor, Daniel is a successful music industry executive and Laurence ... well, he's the quiet and shy one who earns a living by teaching old ladies how to play bridge.

    Enter Martha - a young American woman who is sick and tired of her dead-end career and false friends in Minneapolis and decides to buy a US$99 one-way special air fare - which just happens to be London, where our three friends are. She gets to eventually meet each one of them, under bizarre but what turn out to be related circumstances, and each one of them falls madly, passionately in love with her. So which one does she love? And how will it all end? Will they still remain friends?

    The whole story is told from the perspective of Laurence in a spur-of-the-moment psychotherapy session with his neighbour "psychiatrist" Dr. Pedersen (Ray Winstone). He recounts the events of the last three days of his life, and slowly the doctor and we, the audience, piece together the whole picture through a series of flashbacks and narration.

    The film is competently directed by Nick Hamm based on a story by Peter Morgan. It is produced by independent producer Grainne Marmion. This is a perfect film to watch on a rainy weekend afternoon. It portrays a very romanticised and stylised version of London: quaint streets, interesting characters, cafes, parks and lots and lots of rain - which funnily enough was exactly how I perceived London the first time I visited it.

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Transfer Quality

Video

    This is a pleasing, but not spectacular, transfer in the intended aspect ratio of 1.85:1 with 16x9 enhancement.

    The opening of the film seem to be somewhat blurry and drab, with moderate amounts of film grain but that turned to be intended, as we are supposed to see a cloudy London sky in the early morning. The rest of the film does pick up in terms of detail and colour saturation but is never quite perfect. The transfer seem to have a tendency towards softness, and colours seem just a little bit off, but I suspect that this is probably due to the quality of the film stock rather than the telecine process.

    Fortunately, I did not detect any major instances of film to video artefacts. The film source consistently features low level grain which is on the verge of threatening to break out into resolvable chunks but never quite does.

    This disc appears to have an English subtitle track (not mentioned on the packaging) but when I turned it on I didn't see any subtitles. I suspect this track is used to generate the "A.K.A. The Very Thought Of You" message during the opening titles.

    This is a single sided and dual layered disc (RSDL) but I could not detect where the layer change occurred, despite repeated viewing. So, either the layer change is at a very well-placed spot, or it is placed in between DVD titles. Given that the length of the feature is quite short (84:08) and there are over 30 minutes of extras, I suspect it is the latter.



Video Ratings Summary
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
Grain/Pixelization
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

    There is only one audio track: English Dolby Digital 2.0 surround-encoded (192Kb/s). Despite the packaging listing this as a vanilla 2.0 track, it does flag surround encoding. However, given that this is such a dialogue-centred film, I don't think it really matters that much.

    The track itself is pleasant-sounding and acquits itself quite well. As I mentioned before, it is dialogue-focused so most of the sound comes from the front speakers, particularly the centre channel. I only detected the rear speakers being used during the "Channel 4" logo at the beginning of the film. Of course, there is no subwoofer activity.

    I did not detect any audio synchronisation issues and dialogue was relatively easy to understand throughout the film.

    The original music score by Ed Shearmur is pleasant and fits the film but is otherwise not memorable.



Audio Ratings Summary
Dialogue
Audio Sync
Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

    There is a reasonable collection of extras, even if they appear somewhat "unpolished".

Menu

    The main menu features 16x9 enhancement and background audio but seems to suffer from a number of MPEG artefacts such as Gibb's effect, probably due to overcompression.

Theatrical Trailer (1:47)

    The trailer appears to be presented in 1.66:1 with no 16x9 enhancement, and is accompanied by an audio track in Dolby Digital Surround.

Featurette - B-Roll (9:47)

    This appears to mostly consist of excerpts from behind-the-scenes footage, probably intended to be edited into a promotional featurette. It concentrates on four major scenes:

    The featurette is presented in 1.33:1 with Dolby Digital 2.0 Surround audio.

Featurette (3:55)

    This is a short promotional featurette, presented in 1.33:1, containing some excerpts from the film together with interviews with:

Biographies and Interviews - Cast & Crew

    This is a set of sub-menus, biographical stills, mug shots and brief video interviews of the following:

    There is a short interview segment for most of the above names - these videos are presented in full frame (1.33:1) and appear to be edited excerpts from longer interview sessions.

Production Notes

    This is a set of 15 stills that provide some notes and anecdotes about the film. Personally, I think these notes reveal too much of the plot so I would urge you not to read these until after you've seen the film.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

    The Region 4 version of this disc misses out on;

    The Region 1 version of this disc misses out on;

    Unless the Region 1 version has a dramatically better audio or video transfer (which I think is unlikely), Region 4 is the clear winner due to the included extras.

Summary

    The Very Thought of You (also known as Martha, Meet Frank, Daniel and Laurence) is an enchanting and delightful romantic comedy. It is presented on a disc with acceptable audio and video transfers, plus a reasonable collection of extras (compared to the bare bones Region 1 disc).

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Christine Tham (read my biography)
Friday, October 12, 2001
Review Equipment
DVDPioneer DV-626D, using Component output
DisplaySony VPL-VW10HT LCD Projector, ScreenTechnics 16x9 matte white screen (254cm). Calibrated with Video Essentials. This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Video Essentials.
AmplificationDenon AVR-3300
SpeakersFront and rears: B&W CDM7NT; centre: B&W CDMCNT; subwoofer: B&W ASW2500

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